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01.09.2006

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do it like dish winning the battle over doing the dishes by Yee-Fan Sun |  1 2 3
continued from page 1

Still, my lack of inherent neatness is a flaw of which I am well aware. Part of the problem growing up was that my mother was a stealthy cleaner. She never let the mess get to a point where anyone would notice it's sudden absence; she cleaned house without making a fuss. The first time I encountered a major dust bunny in my college dorm room, I was shocked to discover that debris could form such a large mass all on its own. Having never seen such horrors in my parents' well-kept house, it took a second for me to realize the dust bunnies were breeding because of my lack of attention to, you know, basic cleanliness. In the years since moving out on my own, I've been making a conscious effort to get better about keeping my digs from degenerating into a complete pit of despair. It's a slow, painful process for me -- and one that I've often thought would be a whole lot easier if only I weren't fighting the messy tendencies of not just me, but the boy as well.

Nowhere is this battle more contentious than in one specific realm of our household duties: the dishes. See, I can deal with mountains of paper on the coffee table; I can cope with piles of semi-clean clothing accumulating on every bedroom surface. But in the kitchen, I am adamant: countertops must be tidy; surfaces must be clean. It's something the boy just can't wrap around his brain, as he is an equal opportunity mess-tolerator, and the kitchen is just another room in the house that can wait to be neatened up until it has reached a state of utter unusability, or guests are coming over, or there's something buried beneath the mess that we're in dire need of accessing.

So for ages, our evening ritual would go something like this: Girl cooks a tasty and nutritious meal. Boy and girl share said meal. Boy sinks into a food coma and immediately proceeds to veg out on the sofa. Girl's eyes shift from the food-encrusted plates, to the cute boy on the couch, back to the plates, back to the boy. The dishes need washing, she finally grumbles. (What she really means to say is: I cooked, now do the dishes please.) Come and snuggle with me, he begs. (By which he means: Later, later. Like tomorrow. Maybe.)

On a good night I'd give in to the couch time, and pay for it the next morning by waking up to the sight of a stack of dirty dishes by the sink. On a bad night, I'd nag until one or the other of us grew tired of the sound of my harping, and whoever would end up in front of the kitchen sink would inevitably find themselves washing the dishes in a huff. In the long run, neither outcome felt all that satisfying to me. I'd always assumed that the old whoever-doesn't-cooks-cleans rule was the way things ought to be. Well here I was, giving my best in the cooking department night after night. So why wasn't the boy living up to his end of the bargain?

keep on moseying...

 

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